5 October 2017

CUHK Professor Junsen Zhang receives the “Sun Yefang Economic Science Award”
Research article on the relation of China’s Population Control Policies to Human Capital Investment



Prof. Junsen Zhang, Wei Lun Professor of Economics and Chairman, Department of Economics at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) has recently received the “Sun Yefang Economic Science Award,” one of the highest honours in economics in China. The award recognises his excellent academic performance and contribution to the development of economic science in China. Prof. Zhang’s article ‘Do Population Control Policies Induce More Human Capital Investment? Twins, Birth Weight and China's "One-Child" Policy,’ is the only one among all the award-winning articles that was published in an overseas journal.

Birth control is usually implemented by developing countries, including China from 1979, to improve human capital investment and economic growth. Prof. Zhang and Prof. Mark Rosenzweig, Frank Altschul Professor of International Economics, Yale University, addressed the issues of whether reductions in fertility increase human capital investments per child and whether twinning can identify the quantity—quality (Q-Q) trade-off. By examining the effects of twinning by birth order, net of the effects stemming from the endowment deficit of twins, they have provided the upper and lower bounds of the trade-off between the family size and average child quality. They also estimated, based on data from China, that an extra child significantly decreases the schooling progress, the expected college enrolment, grades in school, and the assessed health of all children in the family. Despite the evident trade-off between child quantity and quality in China, the findings suggest that the contribution of the one-child policy in China to the development of its human capital was modest.

Prof. Junsen Zhang said, “I am deeply honoured and grateful to have been chosen to receive the ‘Sun Yefang Economic Science Award,’  which is one of the highest honours in economics in China. As a scholar, the goal of academic research is to promote the sustainable development of economic science. I hope this article can provide reference for the formulation and optimisation of population policies in mainland China.”

About Prof. Junsen Zhang

Prof. Zhang is currently Wei Lun Professor of Economics in the Department of Economics, CUHK. He received a Ph.D. in Economics from McMaster University in 1990. He returned to Hong Kong and joined the CUHK in 1993. Since 2012, he has been the Chairman of the Department of Economics of CUHK and was elected as a Fellow of the Econometric Society in 2013. His research has focused on the economics of family behaviour, including crime, fertility, marriage, education, intergenerational transfers, gender bias, and old-age support. He also works on family-related macro issues, such as ageing, social security, and economic growth. His findings have been published in leading international journals, and he was ranked 357 in the world’s top 1,000 economists, and placed 5th in Asia, based on a year 2000 survey, by The European Center for Advanced Research in Economics and Statistics (ECARES).

Prof. Zhang has participated actively in a wide range of community services. He was a member of the Commission on Strategic Development and Committee on Economic Development and Economic Cooperation with the Mainland, and the President of the Hong Kong Economic Association. He is currently Editor of the Journal of Population Economics, and serves as a member of editorial boards and as an anonymous referee for a number of academic journals.

About the Sun Yefang Economic Science Award

The award has been reputed to be one of the most famous and authoritative awards in economics in China. It was founded by the Sun Yefang Economic Science Foundation in 1984, to commemorate the distinguished Chinese economist Sun Yefang, for his significant contributions to economic science, to the encouragement of the growth in new economists and to the prosperous development of economic science in China. The vetting committee, made up of 29 economists from mainland China, elects literary works and journal articles every two years. In 2017, three journal articles have been elected, including Prof. Zhang’s.